The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament by Sharon Farber: Lyrics by Nathan Alternman
When I learned that Danny was kidnapped, my heart was heavy with sorrow. Coming from Israel, I knew well the grief and heartache that hatred and senseless killing can bring. I did the only thing I knew to do to express my emotions: I wrote a piece of music based on the Hebrew poem by Israeli poet Nathan Alternman’s “The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament”.
The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament
The poem had been close to my heart since childhood and it was a natural choice for me to set it to music. It was also a natural preference to compose the piece for A Cappella Choir, in order to express and enhance the human experience we all share. I feel that this work, with its harmonic and melodic elements, unites the mothers of the world who call for peace and love, and it is my sincere hope that “The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament” will become an integral part of the Daniel Pearl Music Days.”
Originally premiered by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, under the direction of Maestro Grant Gershon, the work was awarded First Prize in the Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition.
“The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament” is dedicated to Judea and Ruth Pearl.
By Nathan Alternman
Translation by Robert Friend
Translation copyright by Jean Shapiro Cantu
Mothers are singing, Mothers are singing.
A fist of thunder bangs down.
Red-bearded lamps are marching
In the empty streets in rows.
Autumn mortally ill, weary, inconsolable autumn,
rain without beginning or end.
No candle in the window, no light in the world
I hear one of them say:
“He was here but yesterday.
I shall kiss his every fingernail and finger.
I see a tall ship in a calm bay,
And my son form the topmast hanging.”
And the second one says:
“My son is tall and quiet.
I am sewing a holiday shirt for my dear.
He’s walking in the fields. He will soon be here.
And he holds in his heart a lead bullet.”
And the third mother says with her wondering eyes:
“No one was dearer or kinder…
Who shall weep when he comes if I cannot see?
I do not know where to find him.”
And she bathed her eyelashes with weeping.
Perhaps he is only resting.
Perhaps in foreign places
He measures the path of Your world, O God,
Like a wondering monk, with kisses.
The printed score for "A Mother's Lament / The Third Mother" is currently published by the Roger Dean Publishing Company, a division of The Lorenz Corporation and is catalogue number 15/2596R", and it is recommended for professional and community choirs, throughout the year.